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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

By Joe Barr on April 11, 2008 (10:00:15 PM)

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I came away from the second annual Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit with mixed feelings. I mean, it's hard not to support the group that pays Linus Torvalds to spend his time continuing to lead the poster-boy project for free and open source software. But at the same time, those golden chains are my biggest concern about the Linux Foundation.

IBM sponsored the event, and they are the biggest supporter of Linux in the corporate world. The foundation membership is made up of almost all the large and and many of wanna-be-large IT firms around the globe -- including Adobe, which is one of the foundation's newest members. You can find a complete list of members on the foundation website.

There is no doubt that the time and money the corporate world has spent -- and keeps spending -- to support Linux development has been beneficial to Linux, and therefore to all of us who use the platform. When world-class IT gurus like Torvalds are freed from the demands of a day job not directly related to kernel issues, it's a good thing for all of us. Likewise work on projects like the LSB, which can smooth a few rough edges keeping some from adoption. But still, I worry about the price.

As pointed out in Robin Miller's video interview with Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation at present is focused on a core group of large, sophisticated Linux users, not on the needs of individual users and developers or the thousands of small-to-medium-sized companies using or developing software for Linux. Zemlin also notes that the great thing about open source is that anyone who wants to can start their own organization or foundation, and suggests that if the Linux Foundation is not right for some, they should do just that. While Zemlin's comments helped to clarify the Linux Foundation's immediate goals and practices, it didn't really quiet my discomfort.

Before I learned that the press was not welcome in any of the working-meetings at the summit on days 2 and 3, I saw and heard rumblings of discontent from more than one ordinary Linux desktop user. One example: a top-ten list of inhibitors to Linux adoption, created by a committee of foundation members, contained nothing at all relating to desktop usage. Nothing. Everything on the list was about back-room usage. Servers. Big iron.

Wi-fi drivers were mentioned in passing, but not addressed as an action item. Jittery notebook keyboards/track pad/sundry rodents weren't mentioned at all. Those two items are certainly on my top-ten list of inhibitors to adoption, but not on theirs.

It's only natural that the people who are paying developers hard cash and paying kernel folks' travel and documentation and system administration costs want to have a say in what those kernel folk and application developers are focusing on. This is the way things are supposed to work. The problem is, or may become, that the close relationship between core Linux developers and large IT firms may overshadow the wants and needs of those who want Linux to become the best desktop platform, not just the best server platform.

With the current makeup of the Linux Foundation membership, that may never happen. The money people are concerned about money. IBM won't make more money if Linux does well on the desktop, but they will if it does better on big iron. HP and Dell make so much money from selling Windows on desktops that they have precious little motivation to work harder to see Linux grow in that space. That's fine, too.

That is, that's fine unless the wants and desires of IBM, HP, Dell -- substitute any other members names for any of those three, I use them out of familiarity, not to pick on them -- so totally dominate the time and the efforts of free software developers that Linux never gets to the next level as a desktop platform. Money talks. And when Linux Foundation money says do this, and this means backroom stuff, then the desktop will continue to get short shrift.

Now, there are firms interested in seeing Linux do well on the desktop. But by and large they are the smaller firms among the foundation's membership. They are trying to make a go with small, cheap laptops or eye-pleasing desktop distributions. And they don't bring the same money to the table that the big boys do.

What's the answer to this dilemma? I don't know. But I do worry over it. So does Paul Elliott, a longtime member and officer of the Austin Linux Users Group. He read about the summit in the local paper, and tried to attend. Unfortunately, he showed up on the second day and attempted to register as a journalist, when the press was no longer welcome in the talks and workshops. He blogged about his unhappiness with the experience on the LUG's website.

It doesn't make good business sense to have reporters sniffing around business meetings. I won't argue with that. To a corporation, information needs to be sanitized, not free. PR handlers need to be present when management speaks to the press. This is life in the corporate world. I don't have a problem with that, except when that same lack of transparency begins to enter the FOSS world, as it seems to have done at this Linux event. It doesn't belong here. It's not part of our culture, or our community. I worry about what we're giving up for the corporate dole.

I hope that the Linux Foundation's plans to broaden the membership base and to address the concerns of individual developers and users, as mentioned in the Zemlin interview, come to fruition, and that as they do they prove my worries to unfounded and unnecessary.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.90.49.38] on April 12, 2008 03:33 AM
Sun not IBM is the BIGGEST supporter of open source.

Where's the source for Websphere? Which billion dollar Linux company has IBM bought? Where the source code to
Lotus Notes?


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Re: Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.12.20.5] on April 13, 2008 02:02 PM
Red Hat is the biggest supporter of OSS in the corporate world. ("Biggest" as in "does the most to contribute and advocate it".) Sun, IBM, Novell... all hedge their bets and are better described as "mixed-source". Of the corporate supporters, Red Hat stands out as being the one that does not hedge. And they are the #1 supplier of Linux to the corporate world.

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Re: Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 203.111.237.52] on April 15, 2008 05:43 AM
>> Where's the source for Websphere? Which billion dollar Linux company has IBM bought? Where the source code to
>> Lotus Notes?

.... did you check the wastebasket?

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.132.122.158] on April 12, 2008 04:07 AM
Why in the heck would anyone want the source code to Lotus Notes???

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Lotus Notes source code

Posted by: TK on April 14, 2008 03:28 PM
Developers would be able to learn from source code and use the good stuff in their own projects as needed. Yes, you'll find good and bad code and hopefully a developer will know the difference when they see it.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: proopnarine on April 12, 2008 04:17 AM
The article states that IBM is the biggest supporter of _Linux_ in the corporate world. That is correct. Sun does not yet come close, and their underhanded marketing of Solaris via initial Linux sales on servers leaves much to be desired.

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Re: Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 117.198.1.78] on April 12, 2008 09:27 AM
As far as i know sun is the largest open source company in the world (in term of revenue). they have contributed more code and technology to open source than any other company in the world. they are the first server vendor to support all three major Linux distro (redhat, suse, ubuntu) in their server lines. if you are criticising sun for marketing open-source solaris operating system then what you will say about IBM marketing of AIX and HP marketing of HP-UX?. Linux is essential component in open source eco-system, but open source isn't all about Linux. Linux community shouldn't be afraid from competition. fair competition will ultimately help Linux to grow. Read this article to get the true defintion of open source:- http://www.niyam.com/gnulinux/lfy/fy/FY-monthly-col.php?feb2k7

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Re: Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 150.101.221.106] on April 13, 2008 03:49 AM
... and IBM supports linux.conf.au, the world's best linux conference for free and open source developers. Sun doesn't.

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Re(1): Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 117.198.0.129] on April 15, 2008 03:49 PM
...and Sun supports Ubuntu Live, the conference of the world's most popular linux distro.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 189.166.168.30] on April 12, 2008 05:24 AM
There should be 2 linux kernels, servers and desktop.
Yeah it would take balls that doesnt exist currently. Is the old reformist vs conservationists all over again in wich, it doesnt matter the ammount or quality of the arguments but the willingness to just comply without reason for the sake of a promising future.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.57.142.72] on April 12, 2008 07:20 AM
There's no need for 2 kernels. Linux is a general OS and therefore should do good job for both usage, the difference between dekstop and servers should just be some tunable.
But the fact is that Linux is not developped for the desktop or for users, and that desktop users are not really important.
It is developped for people who pay for it first. And people who pay are corporate, and corporate want to make money, and the desktop is owned by MS, so only for the server place (for historic and economic reasons). Nobody really wants to attack MS directly or can afford it. Redhat was very clear on that point. In essence, they said: "Linux is not a desktop operating system - for now at least. If you want to make a desktop OS, DIY (through community distributions)."
Is it a problem? Not really. People wishes are irrelevant: there is simply no market affordable for now. The problem is for people who wish Linux is a destkop operating system: they are simply dreaming. And nobody really cares, they are just whining a little, but they are neither willing to pay (a lot, say 100k$ by copy to fund development of a desktop oriented project) for it, or numerous enough to justify an economically viable general purpose distro.
That's the fact.

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Re: Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 62.31.235.88] on April 12, 2008 01:29 PM
The 'fact' is that the Ubuntu install I'm using right now has served me better for the last 3 years than windows has ever done

The 'fact' is that there are numerous configuration options available for the Linux kernel at build time, some are good for the desktop, some are good for big iron.

The 'fact' is that the market is supposed to follow people's wishes not make them 'irrelevant'.

The 'fact' is that if Red Hat would never really say anything as stupid as "Linux is not a desktop operating system" for a start linux is not an operating system, and -red hat- would know this

The fact is that there is a lot of crap out there, as you seem to be fond of implying, but for a whole lot less we can be thankful not everyone thinks like you...

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Re: Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 80.108.103.172] on April 12, 2008 05:35 PM
"Is it a problem? Not really."
You are wrong. It is a problem.

"People wishes are irrelevant"
Your statements are irrelevant.

"there is simply no market affordable for now."
If you only look at "sales which we can make with desktop OS" then you are right, but people DO spend money and people who sit a lot in front of the PC _ALSO_ spend money.

"The problem is for people who wish Linux is a destkop operating system: they are simply dreaming."
You are wrong.

"And nobody really cares, they are just whining a little, but they are neither willing to pay (a lot, say 100k$ by copy to fund development of a desktop oriented project) for it, or numerous enough to justify an economically viable general purpose distro. That's the fact. "
First, your facts are flaws as are your arguments. Second, in fact many care. I agree that many also dont care and I agree that the server corporate world has a much better control over Linux Development than the "desktop guys". But you are so horribly wrong in general, I cant continuie... pay 100k dollar to fund development? For what IF THE LINUX KERNEL WILL NOT SUPPORT IT ANYWAY?
Look at modular xorg. Its been around so many years and it still sucks.

I wish the KDE folks will one day remove the dep on modular xorg. I for sure would quickly jump boat, simply because modular xorg team ignores users.

The KDE team is a role model in the open source community, even better than the Linux kernel guys (because the KDE team dont ignore user input)

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Dateline: Mt. St. Hellen

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.122.165.196] on April 12, 2008 05:32 PM
Report: No change. Three bells all is well. - Just in: Giant salamander seen on late nite talk show doing the river dance. Only the legs were visable as sources say there was not enough context.- An old anciant proverb says that on the back of something very large many small things can be acomplished. I think? Would you rather run a desktop on a closed propriatery server and do all of you commercial and industrial apps by way of a toll road? Sometimes you need a tree and some roots befor you can grow leaves. And just think the most power full server in the world and its open source so you can use it to.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.213.128.184] on April 12, 2008 06:01 PM
The "fact" is that GNU/LINUX is an operating system, just because it's easier to say LINUX doesn't mean it's not an OS! I think you're getting OS confused with DISTRO, Red Hat is a DISTRObution of LINUX, read the wiki. When ask what you drive most people don't say "FORD/LINCOLN/TOWN CAR" or even "LINCOLN/TOWN CAR" most would simply say "TOWN CAR".
The "fact" is there are multiple mainline kernels and kernel.org maintained versions 2.2, 2.4, 2.6
The "fact" is any one can make there own kernel, it's so easy these days, or build it.
The "fact" is if your a code monkey you can create "not just build" your own kernel, however I would never recommend coding your own since building one from the existing tree is so easy(menuconfig, xconfig, gconfig) and quick with dual cores. OK if you go through the 2000+ options not so quick, but default then customize or pre-built then customize is.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.122.165.196] on April 12, 2008 06:21 PM
With the adoption of open source around the world as a result of shear magnitude, the most promanent user needs and perhaps an endless variety of specifics should flourish as smaller organisations and institutions take the initiative to address a specific need. An industry could hire an open source programer to add features specific to there needs. A recent artical in a shortwave radio magazine identified a packet switching radio set up using a windows PC. They used development methods common among open source. However, they either didn't want to do the programing or don't know how, or could only ask to have there product features addressed by way of a proprietary system. I understand the need for regulations specific to being a radio operator. And would suggest that most of base station development for the masses dose not need someone able to broadcast long distances. Most of the building blocks are in place needing only to be wraped in a novice interface as routers are FCC aproved as are any RF devices user licencing for small power application is covered within the device. So anyone can use them. It is within this context that sporting events and small bussinesses such as security, national parks (wifi travel and tour guide info.), shoping centers, cities broadcasting low power as people drive past or visit could have access to event info. if hosting an event or general chamber of commerce type info. selling the cities benefits could be availed, these uses would reveal needs to address that would develope a more effective and user friendly system. I was thinking how a college tutor center set up as a study hall is very effective for homework as questions can be answered using only one or two teachers. If this were offered to high school as an alternative to sports, an accademic club were a person could do homework, other features could coat tail such as chess, science, and electronics or comunication, music production and composition. An intro. to calculus could be offered after algebra addresing simple forms and operators so science and engineering problems could be solved. There could be programing curiculem and a project to maintain a secure base station for student use to avoid the cost of cell phone use using local networking features while learning the system design of cells and routing. The CW packet product incorperated XML type tags.- provocitive

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: ali on April 12, 2008 11:00 PM
With the adoption of open source around the world as a result of shear magnitude, the most promanent user needs and perhaps an endless variety of specifics should flourish as smaller organisations and institutions take the initiative to address a specific need. An industry could hire an open source programer to add features specific to there needs. A recent artical in a shortwave radio magazine identified a packet switching radio set up using a windows PC.

[Modified by: Nathan Willis on April 12, 2008 06:19 PM]

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 97.87.136.173] on April 14, 2008 05:04 AM
If I were to register, I would have done so as an ordinary person had I known that journalists were not welcome. That says to me that the companies in question has something negative to hide.

--Thomas Holbrook II

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 121.44.239.22] on April 14, 2008 05:14 AM
What's this about jittery keyboards etc?

I've been using linux as my primary desktop for 2 years, with no such performance issues, even on older (933Mhz) hardware.

I haven't see anywhere that there have been incompatiblites between desktop and server use within the Linux kernel development. The success of linux as a whole is beneficial to the community and to these companies which support linux development.

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Jittery keyboards? What are you talking about?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.192.250.149] on April 14, 2008 02:00 PM
"Jittery notebook keyboards/track pad/sundry rodents weren't mentioned at all. Those two items are certainly on my top-ten list of inhibitors to adoption"

I've been using GNU/Linux on desktops and laptops for about 7 years, and I've never noticed any of the problems you refer to. Maybe they only affect some oddball hardware configuration used by Joe Barr, in which case they should not be on anybody's "top-ten list of inhibitors to adoption".

My top-ten list of inhibitors to adoption on the desktop would be something like:

1. No income-tax return preparation package

2. OpenOffice has a lot of rough edges and a few annoying bugs

3. A chicken-and-egg problem: GNU/Linux doesn't have critical mass, so too many companies with useful products/websites develop stuff that works only with Windows, even if it would be relatively easy for them to accommodate GNU/Linux users

I don't have any items 4-10. I'm told that the following is a showstopper for some people:

4. GIMP doesn't do CMYK separations

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That's mostly userspace

Posted by: TK on April 14, 2008 03:41 PM
"My top-ten list of inhibitors to adoption on the desktop would be something like..."

Except for possibly #3 in a broad context, most of the stuff you listed is userspace stuff, not strictly kernel stuff. If I caught the gist of the summit correctly, this was to bring vendors, users, and _kernel_ developers together (not the core kernel maintainers but folks that code stuff that will eventually make its way into the kernel).

However, without grabbing more desktop share, GNU/Linux won't grab more commercial software like income-tax stuff (TurboTax online works beautifully on Linux, BTW. Couple of years ago you'd be halted at the first page.). Face it, without more commercial apps the consumer Linux desktop won't grow fast. We need either a MAJOR community push or a major vendor willing to stick their necks out to advertise Linux to get the ball rolling. Thankfully, there are less and less reasons keeping folks from switching to FOSS. :)

Whether we want GNU/Linux to grow fast is another story entirely.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 67.131.30.186] on April 14, 2008 04:35 PM
We all can sit around and be Monday night quarterbacks and say they should have done this or that, but in reality all of us don't really know what would make Linux a more popular desktop OS. Any and all improvements to Linux whether for the "Big Iron" or for the desktop, will improve them both.By focusing on how Linux runs on the "Big Iron" is how Linux started chipping away at M$ install base.

What is really needed inorder for Linux to really become a popular desktop? There are basically four different types of users, 1.) The enterprise user, 2.) The Gamer, 3.) The home user, 4.) the techie.

For the enterprise users (I say enterprise because that is where the money is) they need usability and managability. As to usability, most Linux distros do everything the average enterprise user needs. Managability? Well, that is were Linux is lacking in the enterprise environment. Enterprise administrators don' t want to have to manage individual machines, because it costs money, they would rather have one central location to manage all of the machines.

The Gamer/Home user, they want their stuff to just work and work well. Trully, the needs of the average home user are almost met with some of the more popular distros; they just don't know what Linux is and are affraid of it.

The techie is going to play around and put up with the things Linux is lacking.


Linux needs to become a household name. Currently, the average joe doesn't know what Linux is. Once Linux becomes a major player in the "Big Iron" arena and has addressed the managabilityissues, enterprises will look to Linux for the desktop. As enterprises start using Linux on the desktops, more vendors and open source projects are going to appear; as time passes those enterprise users will become more comfortable with using Linux. We all know, as computer users become more comfortable with an OS the more popular the OS will become ie. Windows and the Apple OS.

We all need to remember both Apple and Microsoft have at least 10 years on Linux, so nothing is going to change overnight.



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Re: Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 12.169.163.241] on April 14, 2008 07:21 PM
" Managability? Well, that is were Linux is lacking in the enterprise environment. Enterprise administrators don' t want to have to manage individual machines, because it costs money, they would rather have one central location to manage all of the machines."

Wrong. Linux has all kinds of excellent central management tools- automatic customized network installations of new clients and servers, locked-down desktop configurations, terminal services, easy customizations and cloning, and on and on. Your other points are pretty much spot-on.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 67.88.249.34] on April 14, 2008 04:50 PM
Do what your best at. As of now thats big Iron, linux should continue that path until it has no further to go. When that is accomplished it should go to the desktop. Think about it, MS best desktop was based off their server code.

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Re: Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 67.131.30.186] on April 16, 2008 10:17 PM
No, that is not quite true; Microsoft has based the server OS from their desktop OS. Windows 3.51 was from Windows 3.11, Windows Server NT 4.0 was from Windows 95, Windows Server 2000 new, Widnows Server 2003 from Windows Xp. Windows Server 2008 I am sure it will be based off of,, you guested it Windows Vista..

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 199.79.10.117] on April 14, 2008 06:03 PM
We have to face facts....business is about cash flow. The conceptual failure here, in FOSS land, is what MS has succeeded at and that is building an ecosystem through the strategic spending of capital in the most advantageous environment.

MS took over the desktop...read: human interface point on the network. Any computer user, regardless of how little they know about computers learned of MS-DOS, then Windows. It ran on practically any hardware and most of the hardware that consumers and SMBs purchased. THEN they branched into servers by telling these same people 'You're using our desktop, right? It's much better to use our servers, too!'. Hence, an ecosystem and vendor lock was created.

The odds of Linux doing this without large volumes of cash to spend on advertising will be zero. People respond, for better or worse, to advertising. Hence, they are also susceptible to FUD. The majority of folks with the purchasing authority in businesses lack the technical acumen to make intelligent decisions regarding technology and fear of change plus unknown expenses makes them stand pat. That is the reason we are even having this conversation.

Developers are smart people. Given the impetus, they could develop cross-platform software all day and into the night if there were a demand. The objective of proprietary vendors is to kill that demand in favor of the industry-given ecosystem. Because of that, I sincerely doubt that consumers can have but so much influence in the present market because of the entrenchment of current business structures.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 192.55.52.3] on April 14, 2008 07:26 PM
Here are some requirements. Let's see how "Desktop" and "Server" users differ:

1. OS does not crash.

Desktop and Server users both dislike it when their system crashes.

2. Goes real fast.

Desktop and server users both like the OS to run applications quickly.

3. Use less power.

Corporate data centers run up enormous electriity bills. Server users like it when the OS is improved to use less power. Desktop users care too as lower power use means quieter systems. Laptop users like their batteries to last longer.

So on these requirements, there is plenty of agreement between Server and Desktop users.

A few years ago there was some debate about the value of SMP support for desktop users. After all 99.99% of home users had a single cpu. Today with dual-core and quad-core cpus the majority of desktops and laptop users need SMP. Same for HIGHMEM ... only big servers had more than 1GByte of memory, so why would desktop Linux users want the Linux source bloated with support for a feature that a tiny minority of Desktop users would need. Now 4GB of memory cost < $50. So there is some temporal disconnect about the value of some features. But on the whole the Desktop users should be happy that the Server users are paying people to add these features to Linux now as many of them will be coming to the Desktop in the not-so-distant future.

Can someone tell me what the Server users are doing to Linux that is detrimental to the Desktop users?

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top 10 list

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 65.112.244.2] on April 14, 2008 07:41 PM
What actually was on this top 10 list? Maybe it is more important than the desktop stuff. Maybe it would drive Linux adoption in enterprises through the server room.

I work in an growing office with ~700 in our HQ, and we're in some 25 countries. Microsoft is accepted by default, and the only Linux I've seen is in the Xerox copier. (Ssh. Don't tell them that!)

Andrew

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Sorry, but this is wrong.

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.192.195.202] on April 14, 2008 07:46 PM
All day wednesday and all day thursday there were dedicated desktop sessions. it's posted on the LF website: https://www.linux-foundation.org/events/collaboration/program

Please check your facts before writing incorrect flamebait like this.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 67.35.117.82] on April 14, 2008 07:49 PM
there are allot of things we can do for linux,but first we gotta get rid of Linus that's the biggest hurdle we have.

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Linux Foundation isn't some great power

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 216.146.251.4] on April 14, 2008 08:35 PM
It does make sense to not have reporters at the workshops. It's about being able to freely discuss the issues of the day. Believe it or not, journalists aren't always welcome to discussions in the community open source projects as well. It's not just some business conspiracy.

That list you referred to was not created in the Desktop Architects Meeting I'm guessing. :)

The Linux Foundation doesn't really have much money or power. I think your article conflates the Summit with the Open Source world in general. Trust me, there are plenty of people here who care about the Linux Desktop. Those in the community as well as companies like Novell and Asus.

You apparently missed Jim Zemlin's point... so the Linux Foundation is for the large companies that make up its membership. So what? There are other organizations (the Gnome Foundation, the KDE e.V.) that are very much concerned with the Linux Desktop.

Ian Monroe
A representative for KDE at the Linus Foundation Summit

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.240.11.2] on April 14, 2008 08:39 PM
Desktop adoption is small compared to what's going on at ISP's, corporate server rooms and universities, especially when you consider the amount of programming effort devoted to linux on servers as opposed to time devoted to the electronic ouija boards(aka windowing systems).

Why? There's no profit model for end users. Most users expect a free OS and don't want to pay for support. Linspire is showing signs of struggling (http://kevincarmony.blogspot.com/2008/04/why-wont-linspire-inc-hold-shareholders.html) and Ubuntu's revenue model is based on, you guessed it, server room penetration. Try to find Linspires annual report. You can't... They aren't publicly traded so are not required to publish one. I bet it's not pretty. Kevin Carmony is a shareholder and very concerned they are stiffing the shareholders on the annual report.

You can't make money on end users unless you are an >ahem< monopoly and they think that's all there is. Servers, on the other hand, make revenue models possible and corporations often pay for very lucrative support contracts which float companies like redhat, Novell etc. Give users a choice of free or MS and they'll often take free. Make them pay and they'll stick with what they know.

The server room is where the money is. While not an ideal situation for normal users, it's not *that* hard to understand that you can't run a company on air and good will. I'm pretty happy to have a viable free desktop OS. You should be too. I was pretty happy with it in 1998.

-Viz

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The Linux Foundation doesn't want to beat Microsoft, apparently.

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 208.120.233.249] on April 14, 2008 08:46 PM
Why should the big corporations want Microsoft to go belly up? As long as Microsoft can pull the wool over everybody with their billions spent on advertisements, and people continue to pay the Microsoft tax unwittingly on new computers, Microsoft is collecting huge revenue which they can pay their allies to thwart the spread of GNU/Linux on the desktop.

That's the problem when you have someone who doesn't hold freedom as his top priority in charge of such a project as the Linux Kernel. Microsoft remains on top of the world.

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Commentary: Linux already selling more desktops than Apple

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 216.123.208.30] on April 14, 2008 09:40 PM
Apple sells about 3 millions machines per year. Asus alone, plans to sell 5 million Eee PCs in 2008 - now add everybody else and his dog that is building Linux desktops and laptops.

So where is this nonsense about Linux not being a desktop success coming from?

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.131.176.170] on April 15, 2008 12:14 AM
I've been saying for some time that big corporations have to adopt Linux on the desktop before Linux can be adopted by anybody else for their desktop. It's not going to be the consumer who runs Linux on their home system who is going to make Linux take out Windows. It's going to be the corporation.

The problem is that corporations are only slowly turning to Linux. And they're turning primarily for use on servers. This, however, is a necessary precondition to running Linux on the corporate desktop. Whereas it was the opposite with Windows. Windows on desktop PCs and the client-server revolution change corporate IT from relying on mainframes. Because of Microsoft's proprietary lock-in of their APIs, Office and the like, it only made sense for corporations running Windows on the desktop to shift from mainframes to running Windows on their servers.

The problem there was that Windows on servers sucked. So a lot of corporations kept using UNIX on their servers because it scaled better and performed better and was more reliable. But it cost as much or more than Windows server OS's. Therefore we started to see Windows penetrate the server space slowly.

Then Linux got serious and corporations started to see that they could get UNIX reliability, scalability, security and performance from an OS that cost even less than Windows. So Linux started to push UNIX out in server space and compete directly with Windows Server.

The end result of this will be Linux dominating the server space within the next ten years or so. That will then make it obvious that it is cheaper to run Linux on the desktop to take advantage of the better integration, the standard APIs, the reliability, the security and the lower cost on the desktop than Windows - especially bloated crap like Vista - can provide.

And that in turn will force the corporate suppliers like Dell and HP and IBM to provide Linux pre-installed on desktops. And that in turn will force the device manufacturers to provide certified drivers for Linux. And that will end the driver problem.

And THEN when it's clear to the people who work in corporations that Linux works, they will start buying Linux for their home desktops - to join those who want to run a decent OS on older hardware than Vista will run on, and those who don't want to pay for Windows.

And THEN Linux will dominate the desktop.

And Mac will still be for those who hate having to figure anything out on a computer. Mac will do well compared to Windows Vista. But it's unlikely that Mac will ever dominate the corporate server room, and thus it is unlikely that Mac will ever dominate the corporate desktop, except in certain companies where the Mac media processing capability if critical.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.45.210.149] on April 15, 2008 12:16 AM
"Asus alone, plans to sell 5 million Eee PCs in 2008 - now add everybody else and his dog that is building Linux desktops and laptops. So where is this nonsense about Linux not being a desktop success coming from?"

I agree with you my friend. It's already happening. Most market share statistics underestimate Linux as there is no reliable way to count the users. And even so, 1% or even 0.5% gain every year is *significant*. It all adds up. The long-term direction of the trend tells you more than the size of it. Desktop environments like Gnome and KDE plod steadfastly onwards and by the way it is these projects that are vitally important to the future of Linux and open source on the desktop. Sure, the kernel is amazing but it has been better than the windows kernel for a long time. Smaller community projects like Gnome, KDE, Amarok, Pulse Audio and distrobutions such as Ubuntu that combine them in a meaningful way are what will determine the future of Linux on the desktop.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.45.210.149] on April 15, 2008 12:20 AM
I'm just going to quote an above comment ad verbatim so people are more likely to read it as it really is rather crucial:

"All day wednesday and all day thursday there were dedicated desktop sessions. it's posted on the LF website: https://www.linux-foundation.org/events/collaboration/program

Please check your facts before writing incorrect flamebait like this."

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.55.199.5] on April 15, 2008 12:24 AM
Sorry the press got shut out, but desktop issues were very much a primary concern of the conference. The Desktop track had the largest conference room. From Common Printing Dialog, to KDE/GNOME collaboration, to cleaned up graphical boot process, and much much more.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.37.10.98] on April 15, 2008 01:34 AM
Article summary: "Class warfare! Secrecy! Insidiousness! I'm a very caring, concerned person!"

Relax - take a deep breath. Ever heard of Mint Linux? No? Hmm, how about Ubuntu?

Client side Linux is alive and well in 2008.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.38.164.186] on April 15, 2008 05:29 AM
Filed my taxes this year AND last with TaxACT using Opera or Firefox. No problems.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 220.226.56.192] on April 15, 2008 07:54 AM
It is clear the the "big guys" are taking over the controlling the growth of Linux, in accordance with their own agendas and not for the needs fo the common user, the small time developers. Something needs to be done about this, otherwise, their will work to tire linux and maybe even make it unkown/forgotton or just-for-high-end-servers etc.
We ate OpenLX (www.openlx.com) have been publishing OpenLX Linux since 2005 and concentraing on creating an excellent (easy and grafical) experience to users. We are happy to be advancing in that direction. We wish we could participate with our experience (& wish lists) in the right forums (that need to be formed perhaps) and take this forward. But, form the tone of this article (which is putting things in a straight forward way, fortunately), the big guys may not allow this to happen. So, the way out would be "Small guys will need to form their own groups and take it forward". And, we look forward to making that happen.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 84.153.115.247] on April 15, 2008 09:39 AM
" Asus alone, plans to sell 5 million Eee PCs in 2008 - now add everybody else and his dog that is building Linux desktops and laptops. "
Have you not seen this?:
http://www.linuxloop.com/news/2008/03/30/does-the-windows-eee-pc-cost-the-same-as-the-linux-version/
Did you imagine that the arch-monopolist would allow that to develop?
What does he do? He makes sure that linux users now subsidise microsoft.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 64.114.83.92] on April 15, 2008 09:53 AM
What are those desktop issues / features that are losing?

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 199.164.56.5] on April 15, 2008 05:41 PM
Well, my Linux desktop runs just fine, thank you. And has been since 2002. Keyboards? Rodents? Wireless? No problems here. Linux Foundation? Who cares. If the suits want to have a conference to discuss their spending habits, more power to 'em. The point is, they spend their money where they see the greatest value. Just like I do. And they do their research before spending, just like I do.

If you're having a problem getting your [insert hardware here] to work, maybe instead of bitching about the kernel devs, you should purchase hardware made by open-source friendly companies, and that works with Linux. 15 minutes research on google can yield an amazingly complete and fully compatible system, even laptops. So take a little responsibility for your own system, and stop supporting proprietary manufacturers who do not give anything to the community. And most importantly, stop blaming Linux when you can't be bothered to do a little homework.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 142.58.207.222] on April 15, 2008 08:57 PM
Isn't it interesting that the Linux Standard Base (LSB) Specifications (PDF files, here: http://www.linux-foundation.org/en/Specifications) are produced by Microsoft Word on Windows machines? :-[

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Commentary: The Desktop Architect Meeting proceedings is available for all to read

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 129.42.208.182] on April 15, 2008 09:33 PM
While the press was not invited to the Desktop Architects Meeting, I encourage everyone to review the proceedings of the LF Collaboration Summit Desktop Architects Meeting.
http://www.linux-foundation.org/en/Desktop_April_Summit_2008_Agenda

I blogged about DAM here
http://www.linux-foundation.org/weblogs/desktop-linux/2008/04/11/dam-5-reports-that-the-state-of-the-linux-desktop-is-strong

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The Linux Foundation serves one simple purpose.

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 124.104.225.49] on April 16, 2008 10:13 AM
I happen to agree with all the points and most of the comments. The simple truth is the Linux foundation exists because should any of the members individually hire Linus Torvalds the competitive dynamic would shift the entire industry. Jim Zemlin is a smart enough guy who's been handed a golden opportunity. Keep this teeter totter balanced and he and his friends collect a fat check and travel expenses for life. It's that simple.

Is the Linux Foundation an elite group of well funded individuals looking after their own interests? Of course it is. Don't be naive! :)

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 213.180.179.66] on April 17, 2008 12:29 PM
GIMP does CMYK separation. You should update your knowledge from time to time.
The problem with GIMP is the more general one of professionals being unwilling to change usage behaviour they learnt from adobe products.

A problem (at least here in Switzerland) is custom software. Our customers run a lot of custom built software, that their business relies on. Sure, it's usually just some data manipulation frontend coupled with a database, but it's very hard to convince them to switch to a less feature-rich LINUX aequivalent. Sometimes, it's a solution to keep one Windows Server and let people access this app over terminal server software.

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Commentary: the Linux Foundation and the future of Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 199.184.122.7] on April 17, 2008 03:39 PM
This is the problem with Linux. Almost everyone involved thinks that Linux is a distribution, and the minute there is some news that isn't directly about their little bitty problem, they think that Linux is going to hell in a handbasket.

I know my remarks are about to become insensitive, but you have to look at the big picture.

If you your hardware isn't working with Linux, get different hardware. The guys who work on Linux and Linux applications aren't going to make sure YOUR k.v.m. problems don't happen, but rather that MOST hardware issues DON'T happen. Big difference. For that reason, its always been a good idea to stay one generation behind on the hardware front.

Also, if your hardware or app doesn't work right, there's a better than average chance that its the Distribution's fault, and not the Linux kernel. If you use different distributions on the same hardware with 'about' the same kernel rev., you may sometimes notice that the same thing will work better or worse from distribution to distribution. That's the fault of the distribution.

In the bulk of the cases, aren't most distributions obtained for free? Hmmm...you get what you pay for, huh?

So Linus is getting paid by big companies so that the Linux kernel works on big hardware. GREAT! A rising tide lifts all boats. If it works on big hardware, whatever you do, don't make a fork specifically so it will run on small stuff and a fork for big stuff. I want the ability to put Linux on either a little desktop or a big multi-way box. Without having to go out and buy the 'Enterprise' version.

Okay, maybe the k.v.m. might not work, but at least I won't get some message about 'kernel insufficient for this hardware'. I can work on the k.v.m. issues, or the wireless issues, or whatnot.

No, they don't care about your itty-bitty keyboard, wireless, GIMP, KDE/Gnome, or other App problems. They shouldn't. They should care that the kenel works when you try to install it on a system. Or that those apps will talk to the kernel as its running on those systems. Keep up the good work! I'm glad I can take the same disk I built a workstation with and put it in a server and expect that the kernel will work.

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